As the New York Mets get set to christen their new stadium, named CitiField (at least for now), they could resemble the National League of 1946, the year before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier; in a stadium being build to mimic the Brooklyn Dodgers' Ebbets Field, the Mets could enter the new season in two months with no African-American players on its 25-man roster.
In their last year at Shea Stadium, the Mets had at least two African-American players, Marlon Anderson and Damion Easley, along with a black manager, Willie Randolph. The Mets have failed to resign Easley and Anderson's spot on the 25-man roster is in jeopardy with the signing of infielder Alex Cora who has to be retained because he would be the only backup shortstop on the roster. Randolph, of course, was fired in the middle of the night in the middle of the season.
Despite the official retirement of Jackie Robinson's number 42 coming at Shea Stadium in 1947, the Mets have have a checkered race-friendly history.
One of the best hitters ever produced by the organization, outfielder Cleon Jones was caught with a woman in his van. The woman was not his wife and was also white. Cleon was forced to apologize in front of the media with his wife at his side in the spring of 1975. After a run-in with manager Yogi Berra later that summer, he was released and ended his career with the White Sox.
In the glorious year of 1986, left fielder George Foster said his benching was race-related saying that whenever the Mets could promote players like Lenny Dykstra, they did. Of course, one of the players who replaced Foster was Mookie Wilson, who was black.
Rachel Robinson, the widow of Jackie Robinson, has decried the decrease in number of African-Americans in the Majors.
There are many free agents left on the market and the Mets still have several needs to fill including a starting pitcher, left-handed reliever, left fielder, and second baseman.
Among those second baseman still available is Orlando Hudson, who has said he wants to play for the Mets. Only the trade of Luis Castillo seems to stand in the way of this "no brainer" signing.
Though a player's race should never be taken as a reason to sign or not to sign him, as Mets fans walk through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda to watch the first game of the new season, it would be appropriate that the Mets have at least one African-American player.